There’s a quaint, little passage at the end of Acts 2 that tells how the early church operated and interacted with one another. Feel free to read it yourself – the whole chapter is awesome – but here’s the part about finances:
“Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” -Acts 2:44-45
That sounds all neighborly and Christian and right… until we recognize the implications. If we take the early church as a model for Christian living, this means you and I are supposed to share everything.
- “All things in common”: All means all. Sharing all they had meant relying on each other for what they didn’t have, like money to pay bills and so on. It’s hard enough to give things away, harder still to have others do the same to provide for you.
- “Sold their possessions and goods”: They didn’t keep their old stuff and just shuffle it around. You take my TV – I’ll take your laptop. No, they turned it into cash so they could change their priorities entirely. They became liquid.
- “As anyone had need”: This wasn’t equality. They didn’t necessarily give everyone the same amount. I’m sure some got more, others less. They distributed as needed, not fairly.
What if we tried to do that today, not as a society or form of government but as Christians, voluntarily? How would it work? If at all?
At the very least, things would be really different, right? Most likely, crazy difficult.
Let’s not forget the overall implications, but for now, here’s a fairly painless way to ease into it, a way to get starting thinking and acting in these terms. (plus, a great way to initiate a Grandfather Effect too).
The floating $20-bill
The process is simple:
- First, identify someone who needs an extra $20
- Second, find $20
- Third, put the money in an envelope and mark the envelop “Floating 20”
- Third, give the person the envelope
- Fourth, tell this person, “It’s not a loan. It’s a floating $20. When you can, pass it on to someone else who needs it.”
That’s the whole thing, and it’s amazingly effective. Until someone does this for you, you don’t really know what it’s like to be on the receiving end. Not only does it help you out, it’s also encouraging to think about passing it on later when you’re able to.
Floating other things
You can modify this a bit too. It doesn’t have to always be a floating $20. For instance…
- Floating food box: Put together a small assortment of foods, even just a loaf of bread or bag of veggies. Mark the box “Floating food.”
- Floating childcare/babysitting: Offer to watch a stressed parent’s kids for the evening. Extra bonus for printing out the offer on a slip of paper to look like a coupon.
- Floating bed: Let people stay the night at your place, free of charge, even if you don’t know them too well. Go the extra mile and tell everyone about your open house policy.
You get the idea. Come up with your own.
Oh, and not to imply anything in Scripture that isn’t there, but I haven’t even mentioned my favorite part about the passage in Acts 2, the result:
“And the Lord adding to the church daily those who were being saved.” -Acts 2:47
(1) Float $20.
(2) What other ideas do you have? I’d love to hear them in the comments.